Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXXVIII (Spinrad + Harrison + Kavan + Effinger)

Ah, when I have access to a massive inexpensive catalogue (Marx Books) the quality of my finds goes up and up…..  Finally a copy of Norman Spinrad’s metafictional The Iron Dream (1972) (if Hitler lived in America and wrote a sci-fi novel AND a commentary on said piece of science fiction).  Unfortunately, I own a later edition (with a hideous cover) than the one below.  Geo. Alec Effinger’s bizarre What Entropy Means to Me (1972) — again, about writing, and interpreting writing, and inventing interpretation…  Anna Kavan’s drug inspired underrated and underread sci-fi parable Ice (1976).  AND, a futuristic fantasy of the highest caliber, M. John Harrison’s The Pastel City (1971) — yes, I could have purchased the multi-novel sequence (and related short stories) in one volume but I like having the original paperbacks.

1. The Iron Dream, Norman Spinrad (1972)

(Uncredited cover for the 1972 edition)

From the back cover of a later edition: “Feric Jagger — A hero so ruthless that he could only be the creation of one mind… In 1953 a struggling, hack science-fiction writer living in squalor in New York signs a contract to produce a novel in six weeks.  The result is the shocking, award-winning bestseller, LORD OF THE SWASTIKA, and ts obsessed, murderous protagonist — Feric Jaggar.  Bever before has a book or a hero so captured the imagination of millions.  Never before has an author catapulted so suddenly to fame!  Never before have you read anything like LORD OF THE SWASTIKA — the last work of a great and obscure — science-fiction writer — Adolf Hitler!”

2. What Entropy Means to Me, Geo. Alex Effinger (1972) (MY REVIEW)

(Stanislaw Hernandez’ cover for the 1972 edition)

From the inside flap: “Dore set out on a quest to find Our Father, and, incidentally, the course of The River, while I, Seyt, was left behind, faced with the tasks of writing about my fabled brother’s journey.  Without facts, there was nothing for me to do but make it up as we went along.  And if Dore encountered symbolism and allegory, he also found love and danger — fighting off armies of overgrown vegetables, theological giants, and treacherous damsels in distress.  But what have I found? Criticism, censorship and a religious war.  And if  don’t want to become the first martyr to Dore’s cause, I’ll have to set out right now on my own quest to find — What Entropy Means to Me — a delightful and intriguing journey on the strange, uncharted planet they call Home.”

3.  The Pastel City, M. John Harrison (1971)

(Gray Morrow’s cover for the 1974 edition)

From the back cover: “In the distant future, a medieval system rises from the ruins of a technology that destroyed itself.  Armored knights ride their horses across dunes of rust, battling for the honor of their Queen.  But the knights find more to menace them than mere swords and lances.  A brave quest leads them to face with the awesome power of a complex, lethal technology that has been erased from the face of the Earth — but lives on, underground.”

4. Ice, Anna Kavan (1967)

(Gene Szafran’s cover for the 1967 edition)

From the back cover: “One too many nuclear bombs had altered Earth’s balance of nature — irrevocably.  The walls of ice were moving down, closing in.  Into this chilled, forbidding landscape came the man — obsessed, in search of the girl — fragile, frightened, a victim.  He would save her.  He would pursue her — to the ends of the earth…”

24 Replies to “Updates: Recent Science Fiction Acquisitions N. XXXVIII (Spinrad + Harrison + Kavan + Effinger)”

      1. Technique? Hmm, I think the gloss (on her actual canvas) makes it look like the sci-fi equivalent of Thomas Kinkade — the Painter of Light (i.e. the painter of kitsch).

      2. By technique I mean the ability to apply paint to a canvas. Its beautiful and slick, but with the composition and design of the content, ultimately uninteresting – at least to me.

  1. I’ve reviewed the Kavan at mine, that blurb makes it sound much more straightforward than it actually is.

    Glad it was The Iron Dream (I own a copy but haven’t read it yet). When I saw you’d got a Spinrad I was afraid it was The Solarians. Hippies! In! Spaaaace!

    The Pastel City’s brilliant of course.

    I’m a huge Effinger fan, but I don’t know that one. Interesting. I’ll look forward to your review.

  2. I probably won’t be able to show my face on this blog again after this, but I have to admit I rather like the cover of your edition – I mean, come on, Hitler as a gay nazi biker? What’t not to love about that? (and that motorcycle just has to be called Valkyrie…)
    The cover of the edition I have probably sums the novel up even better, though – http://michaelaventrella.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/the_iron_dream.jpg
    Very much a book I would not be seen reading in public though, especially considering I’m living in Germany…

      1. Oh, wasn’t aware of that, I got mine on a trip to London, if I remember correctly. Suppose nobody responsible for the banning actually bothered to read the thing, or maybe they’re just immune to satire (which as far as I can recall was not exactly subtle, either).

  3. I had not heard of Anna Kavan. Do you know anything else about her? The SF encyclopedia mentions that she suffered from depression and was addicted to heroin. It sounds as though her work might be similar to JG Ballard?

    1. She wrote very little sci-fi — I think Ice is her only sci-fi novel… But no, I don’t know a lot — the book is generally consider a underrated (perhaps minor) classic. (i.e., my type of book!).

      1. Thanks Max, I took a peek but will read it in more depth after I read the work myself — hehe. I find it hard to write reviews knowing that my opinion has been shaped by others and perhaps, my interpretation as well. But, as always, your review looks great!

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